by Penelope-Z

It would have been better if you had kept on lying. You had become such an expert at it, I think in the end not even you could distinguish between what was real and what not. But you stopped.

Now every time I look at you, I wonder at the smile that operates your lips. Is it part of the disguise? I wonder at the nervous way you shuffle your feet when I open my front door and find you standing outside. We both know what you're here for, but your eyes still can't meet mine. You look down, you blush, you whisper, you talk with parentheses and ellipses, like a blind man stumbling in a room full of furniture. You're so effective at imitating embarrassment, humanoid.

I wonder at the way you shiver, when I trace your face with my fingertips, when I sink my teeth into your shoulder and lick a path from your neck to the base of your spine. I wonder at the way you go rigid in my arms and bite the heel of your palm to stifle your cries, when I move over you, inside you. It doesn't hurt, does it?

You've been wearing your best face lately, the kissing one. Your lips are pink, sugar-glazed, and I like to push my fingers between them and lick your taste from my thumb. Honey, cinnamon or astral dust it tastes sweet, makes me lose perspective, makes me forget.

It lasts a moment or two. Then the memory comes back and your face dissolves into an alien mask, a barb-wired mask, like the ones my father and I use when we fence, always missing by a hair's breadth to skin each other alive. Your saliva leaves a bitter aftertaste on my teeth, as if I've bitten into blackened wood.

You nestle close to me and fall asleep, your head resting heavily on my chest, your curled fingers tickling my ribs. But soon you're gone. Only a warm scent and the imprint of your body is left on the bed; the mattress shaped according to your elbows and shoulders and knees.

I toss and turn for hours, mummified in the sheets that tangle around my legs. I can make out the hands of the clock on the bedside table, two blue lines of phosphorescence, ticking, ticking. The darkness is solid, a black sea where I drown, sinking deeper and deeper into those still, rotting waters. But you, hovering high above the bed, with arms splayed open like a floating Crucifixion, you sleep somewhere in untouchable galaxies.

The window is a square of void blue sky with chips of ice for stars; the frost leaves a foggy breath on the glass. Winter is coming and on the bedside table the clock is ticking backwards for you, my temporary lover of the ebbing year.

On our small planetary scale the moon swings around the earth presenting the same face every time. Just like you. But I want more.

I've been experimenting recently. Last week I laced your coffee with arsenic, just to see you grimace and reach out for the sugar bowl. I was tempted to try a cup myself.

How dare you think you're stronger than me?

Tonight I'll feed you Kryptonite. Your jaw muscles must be relaxed enough in sleep for me to force your mouth open and shove a little piece inside. Just to see the green rock slicing through the layers of your calm expression, to hear the sound of your teeth cracking, to watch your eyes bleed, to see that other face you've been hiding from me. I want to know what goes on behind the plastic membrane of your skin, what mechanisms your body is using, what part of the human anatomy it has denied. Or is it made of clay and blood, just like mine?

But veering towards my nightly goal I lose speed, I lose focus.

Footsteps echo on the sidewalk, a clear, sharp sound. The east greys, and the morning slowly stirs to life, half the street indigo, half dusty yellow. I hear you sigh softly somewhere above.

Not tonight. Because I still need you. Because for another night or two I still love you, love you, love you, my alien monster boy with your hair like comet tails and your asteroid eyes.

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